Ughhhh. That’s my initial reaction when I hear the word mindfulness, because it is overused and largely misunderstood. It is often misinterpreted as being some outside, cerebral entity that is only available to bendy, arugula-eating, deep-eye-gazing yogis. The “goal” of it may be mistakenly equated with the acquisition of a perpetual or static state of zen or #bliss (which of course doesn’t exist, because we are never in a static state of anything…..although this sense of false calm and the suppressed emotions that go along with it are typically at the foundation of spiritual bypassing).
So what is mindfulness? It just means to be present and notice. That’s all. Nothing fancy and no yoga pants necessary. That’s why I caught this wave (yep, I’m the surfer in the photo above)…..I was present with my body, my thoughts/feelings and my environment. The good news about presence is that it is with us no matter where we go…..whether we’re outside in nature, cleaning the bathroom or driving in traffic (that last one is extra hard for me). And being present in our relationships is absolutely essential if we want to break old, unhelpful relational patterns. It is the foundation for change, even though it can be super uncomfortable.
Being present is easier said than done though. Our ways of being are psychologically, emotionally, and physiologically ingrained based on past experience…..so being with ourselves is something that we have to consciously work at. And like everything, we won’t do it perfectly…….we will make mistakes and find ourselves cruising on autopilot.
But there is always that golden moment where we have the opportunity to catch ourselves, and notice; notice that we’ve stepped away from ourselves, and then notice what’s actually happening for us under the surface. This is where the gold is.